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To wonder where I went wrong with DS?

(47 Posts)
TangySweet Sat 17-Feb-18 10:01:23

I have 3 sons, DS1 (31), DS2 (29) and DS3 (18) this is about DS2.

He has a 2 year old DD, with his now ex-wife. They weren't married long less than 4 years, but DS refuses to accept any of it was his fault (there was no cheating on either side, Ex-DIL has said she isn't blameless in it either)

GD has a few extra needs, mainly a speech problem and mobility issues due to a foot problem. She only started walking a few months ago, just after her 2nd birthday. She's no where near ready for potty training. She's not hard to look after at all though, and he would have known that when he left his wife as they split when his DD was 18 months old (she's closer to 3 than 2)

I have her on a Monday afternoon. DS is sometimes working, and doesn't arrange contact to see her. He worked 6 Mondays in a row between end of November and Christmas. So didn't see her at all.

When she's here I do everything for her, change her nappies, get her food, if she gets muddy I bath her. DS sits on the sofa, occasionally reading a book to her but he rarely looks up from his phone. He took the tags off two of her Christmas Presents from me and rewrote them from him, without even knowing what they were.

He hasn't spoken to his ex-wife since they divorced last June. She's been more than reasonable with him offered him every other weekend and 2 nights in the week contact on top of me still having her on Mondays so he could see her again then, but he isn't bothered.

I found out recently he doesn't pay maintenance he "works" but according to DIL the Attachment of Earnings came back that he's paid less than £20 a week, which isn't right as he has a flat that he shares with a friend (thankfully he doesn't live with me and his dad or I'd kick him out) plus he's always "working" so can't do contact. When asked about it he just shrugs his shoulders and says thats the way things are.

It's really unfair as he was a good dad before the split. DIL tells me he would pick her up from Nursery, attend appointments, go to groups with her, even take her swimming or to the play centre.

I don't know where I went wrong with him. His older brother has 3 children, 1 with an ex and he sees that boy most days of the week, does the school run, doesn't pay maintenance but he sees him loads so it kind of works out equally. My DH and I have been together 35 years, and DH is just as involved with the boys lives as I am - he took time off to look after them in school holidays, did clubs etc.

If I stopped doing the Mondays I know DS2 would never see his daughter. I won't stop the Mondays as have a lot of fun with GD, but I feel so awful that she doesn't have a "father". But soon she'll be at school and DS won't have the option to come see her here (I plan to still see her but how that will look/work out I'm not sure).

AIBU to wonder where I went wrong with him? Or how I can drag him out of this?

Dolphincrossing Sat 17-Feb-18 10:03:11

To risk a flaming, I find for the most part men don’t bond emotionally with their children. They think they do, and we think they do, but it’s via the mother. If you died, your DH probably would find somebody else and not be as attached to your sons.

Allthewaves Sat 17-Feb-18 10:06:18

Sounds awful. Keep communication open with ex dil. Make it clear the Mondays are for you to spend time with gd and yoir not covering for son. Tell her your really disappointed in him. And tbh if you can afford it perhaps offer to pay for gd activities or clothes and help her out - making it clear this is from you and u want best for gd

NavyGold Sat 17-Feb-18 10:11:24

You didn't go wrong. He's a grown man who can think and act of his own accord. Unfortunately, he's chosen to be a dick of his own accord.
You sound like a great Grandmother, keep doing what you're doing.

Brightermornings Sat 17-Feb-18 10:15:27

You sound like your putting your grandchild first in all this which is amazing. You can't force your son to take an interest in his child. Just keep doing what you doing.

Pengggwn Sat 17-Feb-18 10:18:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FarmerSee Sat 17-Feb-18 10:18:16

It's not your fault. You can set good examples as they grow up, but ultimately as an adult now your DS is responsible for his own actions. He knows what he should do to be a good father but just chooses not to bother. It's sad, but not your fault.

Have you really sat down with him and explained how you're really disappointed in his poor parenting? I think the man could do with some brutal honesty.

Isadora2007 Sat 17-Feb-18 10:19:05

I wonder how much it hurt him when they spilt and he had to leave his daughter? Could he have just shut off from that pain and withdrawn from her? Does he believe she is better off without him or that it doesn’t matter if he sees her or not? That says something to me that he feels worthless as a father.

Or he could be a selfish twat. He’s your son OP, which do you believe?

selftitledalbum Sat 17-Feb-18 10:19:19

You’re a brilliant granny. You’re honestly brilliant. I would be so proud if you were my child’s grandparent.

Your sons indifference isn’t your fault. Don’t for a minute blame yourself.

QueenOfGaviscon Sat 17-Feb-18 10:28:01

I've no advice OP but you sound like a lovely Granny & ExMIL thanks

Blackteadrinker77 Sat 17-Feb-18 10:31:07

I'd sit him down and tell him how disappointed you are in him. He is a father and he is leaving his Ex to parent her alone in every way. I just couldn't respect him.

Just know that this is not your fault, he is an adult choosing to be a feckless father.

Elderpond Sat 17-Feb-18 10:34:49

I wish my ex mil was like you! She sided with exdh and made excuses for him when he constantly let down his ds.

Even when he moved away without telling his son she said he was a 'still water that runs deep'

Erm you mean he is a cunt?

Bluelady Sat 17-Feb-18 10:35:25

You've done nothing wrong at all. Please don't beat yourself up. I can offer nothing in the way of advice but I do feel for you.

Failingat40 Sat 17-Feb-18 10:35:53

Maybe your sons father could have a word with him?

Perhaps if he put himself in his daughters shoes and imagined life without his dad it would make him realise?

TeasndToast Sat 17-Feb-18 10:36:22

I agree with DolphinCrossing. It is the actual act of caring for a baby, not just having it that creates the bond. That is why mums with PND that struggle to bond are encouraged as much as possible to be hands on.
For as long as lots of men see the less ‘fun’ parts of parenting such as nappy changing, caring for them when they are sick, feeding etc as ‘wife work’ they simply don’t develop the same bond.
That is not to say lots of dads don’t have that bond but you will generally find those that do actually do equal parenting not just the playing, taking them to fun places and buying them stuff.

Many men see the children as an extension of the woman / family life. Once they no longer have access to all that goes with the child they loose interest. His loss. For those men that bother to put the effort in the reward is immeasurable. Trouble is he won’t realise this until it is far far too late.

You can’t blame yourself. It sounds like you’ve done all you can. Just continue to be a loving grandparent. Although before you change a nappy, give her a bath could you not demand he does it? Stop ‘asking’ and tell him in no uncertain terms to look after his own daughter? Do you think being a bit stronger and angry at him might help?

Dolphincrossing Sat 17-Feb-18 10:38:06

I think that is true, tea - it wasn’t quite what I was getting at, but it is a really good point.

But my dad was very hands on and unusually, especially for those days, was the main carer. He still seemed to stop caring after our mother died. Of course he still cared in a way, but only in a way.

Piffle11 Sat 17-Feb-18 10:43:43

I know a few situations like this. When BIL and his ex first split up he moved in with MIL and her other half: she had his DS at least once a week (all day) from when the child was about 18 months and she would do everything - BIL would lounge in bed or play computer games in his room. MIL would take the boy out and play with him, feed him, etc. When BIL got his own place he would bring DS to MIL's when he had him and again just let her do everything. BIL became much more involved when DS got older and these days is doing alright. My ex had 2 DC and when I met him he had them every Sunday and the routine was he would take them to his DM and she would do everything (DC were 2 and 4). Both these men used to go on about how much they loved their DC and yet it seemed like they really couldn't be bothered with them. I think that a lot of men don't really know what to do with very young children: my DH was pretty lost with our 2 until they got a bit older, and my DSis has always said her exDH was rubbish with their DS until he got older. I'm not saying that all men are like this. I don't think you've done anything wrong at all: I think it's great that your not simply blaming your exDIL (like my MIL and her DH do). Hopefully your DS will become more involved as time goes by, but know that's it's not your fault whatever happens.

Trooperslane2 Sat 17-Feb-18 10:43:48

*You’re a brilliant granny. You’re honestly brilliant. I would be so proud if you were my child’s grandparent.

Your sons indifference isn’t your fault. Don’t for a minute blame yourself.*

This.... your adult child's selfishness is NOT YOUR FAULT.

Big hugs x

donners312 Sat 17-Feb-18 10:47:19

To be honest it sounds like the baby would be better off without him and i would be encouraging him to stay away if he doesn't want to be properly involved.

Could you tell him you will pay the CM to his Ex if he won't and say you expect him to pay you back.

If i was you ex DIL I would appreciate all the help you were giving she's lucky like that.

Northernparent68 Sat 17-Feb-18 10:52:51

I wonder if Isadora is right and he feels useless, maybe explore that before you start criticising him

IfNot Sat 17-Feb-18 10:57:33

I think men can develop that bond and step up when they have to. I have known 2 men bring up children without a mother around, and they had no choice but to do all the drudge stuff as well as the fun stuff.
Your son appears to have been given a choice whether or not to be a father, and he has chosen to revert to living like an unencumbered young man.
It's not your fault though.
It's really good that you are developing a lovely bond with your granddaughter.
You can't change your son.

KC225 Sat 17-Feb-18 10:58:01

I have a close friend and her grown up step son was a waste if space as a Dad. What she did was what you are doing see their grandchild every week. Help out when they could, new wellies, swimming suit, taking him to soft play, local farm etc. They were also a sounding board of support for their ex SIL as she would moan like hell to them about her ex but in fairness never in front on the little boy. The boy is now 5 and has a much better relationship with his Dad. They actually go out for the day. My friend thinks her step son wasn't mature enough to deal with the needs and demands of a baby/toddler and is better now the little boy is older. I know my friend and her DH struggle with the fact he missed out on the majority of his son's early years.

Would your son listen to one of his brothers? Instead of him sitting there on his phone, turn off the Wi-Fi and insist he play a game with her or just a sticker book. Tell him to read her story. These things could take 15 minutes max each. Get some statistics on cognitive development of small chikdren - figures on how important interaction is for them.

It must be heartbreaking OP but please don't blame yourself. He is a grown man, he making his own choices, just a shame
it impacts his child.

Hot2TrotNowFit2Flop Sat 17-Feb-18 11:04:34

OP this situation sounds awful but not too unfamiliar. I believe that some fathers and occasionally mothers too will take the easiest route.
If he was left alone with her and she had urgent needs that no one else was going to attend to then he’d have no choice to meet them (safety, nappy, food etc). He has you to do it. Now I can totally see why the situation has become what it has become if he’s not bothered and you love her to bits.
I’m wondering if he’s depressed and just not letting anyone see it? It’s strange he should be so close to her then retreat with such a dramatic U turn. Are you really forthright with him? How brazenly have you confronted him about it all or are you worried about repercussion to doing so? Sounds like you can’t make the situation much worse for your granddaughter. I’d go right to the point and gently tell him what you see the situation to be, what the long term consequences will be and ask him if he wants any contact at all with his daughter. Ask him, how he is doing emotionally since the split? He might be feeling loss that’s blocking his emotions to his daughter. He might benefit from counselling or talking to Relate.
He might just be a heartless dad. That you can’t do anything about.
Just know that you are an amazing grandma. My MIL lives 1.5 miles away and makes a pathetic effort to see her GD & GS for about 20 mins once a month/every other month. Your GD will give you unconditional love. That’s golden. Something your son will not have in the future.
Maybe print this thread off and show him it? At least it might make him realise that everyone will have an opinion, a feeling about his behaviour. If he really doesn’t care then he won’t react. If he does it might start the ball rolling to make him realise that if he wants a relationship with his daughter in future then you can provide that for him too. You’re grandma, not grandma AND dad rolled into one. You are not being unreasonable, you’re justifiably broken hearted that your son doesn’t show any love care or concern for his flesh and blood.

LIZS Sat 17-Feb-18 11:04:48

He's made his choices. He will probably always play the victim but reality is if it weren't for your efforts his dd would probably lose contact with your family, her f included. He sounds lazy tbh and it might be worth stopping inviting him over and see what effort , if any, he makes independently to see her.

meredintofpandiculation Sat 17-Feb-18 11:10:11

You're overestimating your influence on him! Children are so much more than the result of their parents. Everyone they come into contact with has an influence on them, and then there's their own inbuilt temperament.

You're keeping open a window of opportunity. He may become more involved as she gets older.

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